While scrounging on Craig's List, I found a couple old Dewalt Radial
Arm saws. One is pretty pricey at $325 but one is $85 and the other
is only $70. Would it be worth it to purchase one of these or would I
be better off with a good miter saw? I already have a Jet table saw,
so my initial thoughts are that one of these would be redundant but
the prices keep bringing me back. From what I understand, the Dewalt
is one of the few radial arm saws that were really very good at
keeping true. Or am I wrong?
I don't know how much space would be eaten up by one of these but I
don't think it would be ultra-terrible, is it? I "share" my garage
with my car but even if I kept it outside all the time, I would need
to put this on wheels because there is simply no room. Also, I do not
know if things get all out of whack if I would move this thing all the
Would it be worth it to go after one of these things or am I just
DeWalt Radial Arm Saw Model 7740 - $325
Dewalt Radial Arm Saw - $85
RADIAL ARM SAW 10" DEWALT - $70
I went through a similar thought process several years ago when trying
to decide what size of miter saw to buy for a basement finish job. At
the time I opted for a 12" vs 10" to gain a little more size
capacity. I also decided then that I could add a RAS later when I had
more room. I have the room now, and I'm starting to think radial arm
Comparing the two is a little like apples and oranges. Even the
sliding miters come up short on a lot of the capability of a RAS. Not
only can you do miter work with a radial, you can raise and lower the
arbor/motor to adjust depth of cut. When saw-cutting dado's it is
easier to index the stock against the fence and visually see the blade
cutting across the panel; rather than seeing it come out the other
side face-down. A RAS will accept most of the blades, dado heads,
shaping accessories, etc. that your table saw uses. Panel cutting,
within reasonable sizes, can be easier with a radial arm saw.
I don't think the RAS will give you the precision you can achieve with
a well-tuned table saw. Also, some folks will say that shaping, and
to an extent, dado cutting on the RAS isn't as safe. I would probably
agree with this but you just have to keep your head engaged as with
all power equipment.
BTW - Buying used is the way to go. There are burnt out woodworkers
and widows all over the place who want to sell them; and often at a
very good price. Also watch estate sales. My cousin bought one a few
years ago on a metal stand with every imaginable attachment for $250.
It was an older Craftsman that clearly had been used very little.
Occasionally you see similar sets a lot cheaper.
Not seeing the original (and can't find it on Google Groups even though
it was posted from there) so putting in my 2 cents worth here.
First, check out <http://www.woodcentral.com/bparticles/dewaltrebuild.pdf
Note that the middle one of the three listed is one of the old
industrial-strength dinosaurs--if that one doesn't have anything bad
wrong with it it's the one to go for IMO. The other two have been
consumerized to their detriment.
That said . . .
RAS and CMS don't really do the same job. Any cut that a CMS can do an
RAS should be able to do but to get it precise there's more setup time.
The CMS though is a one trick pony. What it does it does really well,
but that's all it does.
The amount of space it takes up depends on what you're doing. If you're
ripping or working with large stock you'll need clearance on each
side--if you're working with small pieces only then you don't need a
space any bigger than the saw.
There's at least 90 percent overlap between the RAS and the table
saw--there are situations where one does a job easily that it almost
impossible on the other but both will do most cuts. To a significant
extent they're complementary--ripping on an RAS is no fun at all, but it
doesn't need any kind of fixture for accurate crosscutting.
Working with small stock (defined as anything less than the cross-cut
capacity of the saw) I find the RAS much more convenient and safer than
the table saw simply because I can clamp the piece down and not have to
have my hands on it while cutting.
The page I linked above tells what to look for and how to check them out.
Books you'll be wanting:
specific to the deWalt--note that his advice on blades, while it doesn't
exactly steer you wrong, is dated--he was writing before companies like
Forrest were producing purpose-made blades for radial arm saws.
<http://joneakes.com/dvd and order the "stationary saws" which includes
his book on tuning RAS--he covers deWalt, Craftsman, and Delta in
excruciating detail. It's not a book on how to _use_ them, it's all
about adjusting them. It used to be sold as a print book and
occasionally you can find a used one but they don't go cheap--abebooks
has a couple for 68 and 75 bucks respectively.
Another that has a surprising amount of useful information is
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)>--of
course it's Sears-centric but most of what it contains applies to any RAS.
My dad built his into the bench along the shop wall so the table was the
same height as the bench top. No extra space taken up that way.
Something to consider...for crosscuts on a RAS (or SCMS for that matter)
you normally want to use negative hook blades so that they don't
self-feed as much. This includes dado sets.
That depends on the cutting you plan to do and on the space available. I
routinely cut long, wide stock - and my RAS with stops set for the
lengths I want is the perfect tool for my jobs. YMMV.
The older DeWalt models (especially the 12" and 14" models) were great -
but I've heard a lot of negative comments about the more recent 10"
models - and I have no first-hand experience. While driving through
Cheyenne a few years back I heard a 14" DeWalt advertized on the radio
for $150 and still regret not stopping to find a phone to buy it. :(
They /can/ grow to fill a lot of space - see what happened to mine at
I do move it occasionally, and it's withstood my occasional moving
It's a good tool to have if you actually /need/ it, but you'll have to
decide that for yourself. :)
Hey, I looked at your photo and saw my RAS with a larger table. I rarely use
it, but it still is handy for the cuts that it can only do. Mine was bought
in 1971 when I was trimming out the house that I had built (I am still
living in it). It was branded TECO as it was purchased from a Canadian
department store (since closed) called T. Eaton Co., therefore the brand
name. I understand it was a OMA model that a US department store also sold
under its own name.
I bought mine about a year later than you did, as my first stationary
tool for restoration work on my first house in Poughkeepsie, NY - and
two years ago was given an earlier model (perhaps the same model as yours).
I bought mine from Montgomery Wards and it was branded "ToolKraft". The
current table is a tad larger than the factory version and I use it
almost as much as the table saw, which came along about two years later.
I've been well-pleased with the saw, and have only needed to square it
up after relocations.
The original MDF table held up fairly well until the floods of '93, then
turned mouldy and warped like crazy - so when I set up shop in 2001 one
of the first things I did was make the new (plywood) table.
It's a keeper. :)
I have a personal dislike for RASs because one bit me once but with
that said, the RAS is more versitile and the Miter saw is more
precise. Good cases for both. Since you already have a TS, then there
is a little less reason to get a RAS over a Miter but the RAS could
still be used for thing that the TS can't do and it probably cross
cuts wider than even a slider.
Me personally (and this is just my opinion) I strictly use the cut-off
saw for rough cuts and true compound miters. I square up all cuts on
the TS of at all possible. I kind of work in production but accuracy
mode so I can runn 100 cross cuts super fast and I always cut 1/2
long. Then trim square using a sled on the TS. So a RAS being sloppy
wouldn't really bother me too much for cutof but I never really liked
them for doing compounds, so I rather have a miter for that.
I vote: Get the $85 one. If it's a bad deal, you're not out too much
money and you will likely learn what attributes to look for in a RAS.
Get some wheels for it and roll it in and out for a while. You may
think of something to better acommodate space, sooner than later. If
it turns out to be a good deal, yet becomes inconvenient, you will
likely be able to sell it in a short time. A RAS is good to have for
several reasons, even if it's tasks are limited. That's a good price
for that saw, in my opinion.
Hope it's not gone by the time you respond to the add.
Can't speak for the Dewalt, but I picked up a used 10" Craftsman about a year
ago and I've
been using it ever since. It stays dead accurate because I use it for one thing
thing only: cross cuts. Yes, I will still use the crosscut sled on the table
saw for some
things, but there is no difference in accuracy and for many things cutting on
the RAS is a
piece of cake whereas the same cut on the table saw is just plain awkward.
Only you can decide. I did have a bit of trouble finding "just the right spot"
but once I did it's never moved and so far it hasn't been in the way.
I chucked the crappy old wheels that came with the saw and put the whole
business on a Delta
mobile base (the model where you install your own wooden rails).
I've heard enough stories about them getting out of whack that I just made the
use it only for cross-cuts and never move it. Every miter I've ever had to cut
getting the RAS has been on the table saw, and my old Delta compound miter saw
*hate*) has never left its spot under the table.
Sounds worth investigating to me. If you don't like it I'm sure you can always
turn it back
around on craigslist. :-)
One other thing to keep in mind: Radial arm saws can make one HELL of a mess!
I spent a
fair amount of time installing some home-brewed dust collection on mine (which,
I can get away with because I never move it from its cross-cut position) and it
of the sawdust these things typically spew all over the damn shop. You might
wanting to do the same thing after the first few cuts. :-)
Any given amount of traffic flow, no matter how
sparse, will expand to fill all available lanes.
Consider the room that would be taken up by a RAS vs. a "movable"
miter saw. If you have room, including to the sides, then a RAS
would be great. Otherwise, for occasional crosscut or miters, the
miter saw on even the shop floor would be handy. Consider a
compound SLIDE miter saw. Mine can cut to the middle of a 24"
shelf. That's not as good as the 17" cut of the Sears RAS I had,
but covers about 95% of what I now do here at the house.
After downsizing, I have virtually no room for large tools like a
cabinet saw, RAS or planer. In my case, I got a Ryobi contractor
saw and mounted it onto a home built cart with casters. Low and
on one side of the cart is a Makita SLIDE/Compound miter saw and
below the Ryobi contractor saw is a 13" portable planer. By using
different sides of the cart, I can use all three without having to
move or change something. I just roll the cart out into the
driveway from its stored location and have 360 degree access.
My experience is almost the same except my RAS was bought new close to
thirty years ago. I didn't have a table saw until about ten years later.
I "tuned" the RAS 5-6 years ago to use strictly for crosscuts and it is dead
on. If I have a crosscut beyond the capacity of the RAS, I use the table
saw if the board isn't "too" long and a circular saw and guide for anything
I recently bought the 12" Milwaukee SCMS for crown molding but I still use
my previous methods for what I've stated.
Grab the $85 model 1400 - quick! The other two were cheapened by
Black and Decker - the arms are less rigid. The 1400 will hold its
precise settings for years, regardless of how often you change angles.
Pick up "How to Master the Radial Arm Saw" by Wally Kunkel at
mrsawdust.com for details on replacing that chewed up (original)
table, as well as safe methods for all the cuts you can make with a
A miter saw will have a slightly smaller footprint and will weigh
less, but for a home shop is less versatile. I have both. I only
use the miter saw for work away from the shop, and then only if it is
too much trouble to take the work back to the shop.
IF anyone still made a RAS the equal in size and quality as the
1400, it would easily cost in excess of $2000.
From my experiance, get the miter saw, it will get more use than a RAS
considering you already have a table saw.
I have a RAS and it gets used to collect and store stuff I don't know what
to do with! The only time I use it is when I can not come up with an easy
way to do some cuts that make a RAS shine, in other words, not very often!
I think it has been a couple years since I used the RAS, but I use the miter
saw quite often'
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